The Freelancer's Mobile Office: Systems and Tools Every Freelancer Needs

If you’re a freelancer, then you know how important it is to have the right tools for your job. But with so many options out there, it can be difficult to choose which ones are best for you. That’s where I come in! I've put together this guide that will help you find all of the basic tools that every freelancer needs to get going.

So what exactly do I mean by “basic?” Well, these are the systems and tools that every freelancer should have on hand at all times – no matter what kind of work they do or where they live. They need them because, without them, their business simply wouldn't run as smoothly as possible. And if something isn't running smoothly… well… let's just say things could get pretty ugly pretty fast!

You don't want ugly situations like those – trust me on this one! So take a look through the list and see if anything strikes your fancy (or maybe even sparks some ideas). Then go ahead and pick up whatever looks good for yourself today! It's time to start working smarter instead of harder – so why not give yourself an extra boost? The sooner you start using these tools, the better off you'll be in the long run. After all… aren't we always told “the early bird gets the worm?” Right?! 😉

Your Basic Business Systems

Which ones you choose depends on the type of business you have. If you're just starting out keep it simple! No single piece of software or tool is perfect so find ones that are easy for you to navigate through and meet most of your needs. Go down the path of least resistance!

You Need a Lead Generation System

How will people find you?

Website

This is your home on the interwebs. Need a free one-page website or landing page to start? Check out Carrd. There is a pro plan that's pretty cheap if you need more features. Otherwise, look to build your own little spot online with WordPress. Don't forget to choose a great host! Bluehost is cheap and is a great way to start if you don't need much. Kinsta is a better one as it will be able to handle your business growth. Plans for Kinsta start at $30 a month.

Landing Page

Carrd can also be used to build a landing page. Your email marketing tool will probably have a landing page builder. If you want to start your landing page without a website, I suggest you look into Leadpages.

Email Marketing

There are plenty of email marketing providers to choose from. I started with MailerLite because it was easy to use and it was packed with a lot of features for the price. I tried ConvertKit which was okay, but the last time I checked the free version doesn't include automation. What's the point?! Drip I didn't care for at all. I also dipped my toes in Flodesk but found that they were more design-oriented and the features aren't as robust. Who cares if your emails look good if nobody reads them?

Social Media

You can definitely start here, but don't stay here. Without going on a full rant just remember the great Instagram and Facebook blackouts of 2019 and 2021. Think of social media channels as side dishes, but not the main course.

You Need A Calendar System

This might be included in your task management system (next section), but if it isn't or you are just starting out and need something simple there's nothing wrong with just a good ol' calendar.

Google Calendar

When in doubt, keep it simple.

Acuity Scheduling

Want to offer a simple way for clients to book time with you without having to play phone or email tag? Acuity Scheduling is it. They are owned by Squarespace, so they play well together.

You Need A Task Management System

Organize your projects and tasks.

ClickUp

I love ClickUp. Use the integrations and automation to really set that thing on fire! It does have a bit of a learning curve, but if you're moving from Asana you can pick it up rather quickly. For me, if it isn't in ClickUp it ain't getting done!

Asana

Asana is the O.G. in the game. Similar to ClickUp.

Trello

If you're just starting out and you are easily intimidated by new software, get your hands on Trello. It isn't as feature-heavy as Asana or ClickUp, but it gets the job done. I started with Trello and it took me about 2 years before I decided to move to Asana, and then ultimately landed on ClickUp.

*Paper or digital planner

Paper and digital planners still work! At least the last time I checked, anyway. My favorite app for digital planners is the notetaking app, GoodNotes. It makes it easy to export your notes into PDFs for later.

* I use a paper planner + a whiteboard before migrating the final draft of the schedule to ClickUp. it just makes things easier for me. This one by Blue sky is inexpensive and not full of clutter.

You Need A Customer Relationship System

Unless you want to be running around trying to figure out if a contract was already sent, if an invoice was paid, or the status of any project, I suggest you look into a CRM (customer relationship system).

Dubsado

This all-in-one system is perfect for anyone who wants a super customized look. Dubsado can easily replace many apps so you don't have to worry about having to use Zapier and hope everything works. It has a bit of a learning curve, but you will be rewarded with an awesome tool that'll save you time.

Honeybook

Another great all-in-one system that is great “out of the box”. Easy to set up.

Both Dubsado and Honeybook ARE all-in-one systemS. YOU CAN CAPTURE LEADS, SCHEDULE CLIENT MEETINGS, SIGN CONTRACTS, send invoices (and process payments) and set up client portals. The differences are minor and it comes down to personal preference.

You Need A Financial System

You've done the work and now you need to get paid. And more importantly, you need to track your expenses and all other financial gremlins.

You Need An Invoicing and Payment System

Stripe

Send invoices and get paid with Stripe. Pretty straightforward and plays well with eCommerce platforms and schedulers like Acuity Scheduling.

Square

Both Stripe and Square can do this, but they are used slightly differently. With Square, you can use a card reader and have a payment terminal right on your smartphone. If you will be selling services or products and do not have a website set up just yet, this is a great way to start. I use Square for those one-offs and Stripe for everything else.

You Need An Accounting System

Quickbooks

Another O.G. in the game. Quickbooks just works.

Freshbooks

Freshbooks is a great alternative to Quickbooks. It is cloud-based software that has many features comparable to Honeybook and perfect for freelancers.

Xero

Xero is another Quickbooks alternative. Where Freshbooks caters to freelancers, Xero caters to product and service-based businesses that need a more comprehensive solution without the Quickbooks price.

You Need A Client File Delivery System

Now you need to get those deliverables to your client fast.

WeTransfer

A quick way to transfer large files. The free version of WeTransfer allows you to send up to 2GB via email or a link that automatically expires in 7 days. With the PRO version, you can send up to 200GB, set passwords, set expiration dates, and have 1TB of space.

Dropbox

Dropbox has come a long way! The free version gets you 2GB of storage and sharing files is easy. Of course, there are several plans to fit your needs. Also, did you know that you can sell digital files directly from Dropbox now? This is perfect for someone who doesn't need a full eCommerce store setup.

If you're a photographer and need your clients to proof files first or buy prints directly from you, use a dedicated gallery like Cloudspot, PicReel, Pixieset, or Shootproof. I have Cloudspot set up because it easily integrates with Dubsado. easy peasy not as greasy.

ELIZABETH ALARCÓN QUOTE BY MEL ROBBINS TOOLS ONLY WORK WHEN YOU USE THEM

Your Basic Office Tools

If you have a dedicated home office, this can help you figure out what to take with you when you travel. The following is more or less what I bring with me when I travel for work.

Choose a tote or backpack

Don't overthink this one. Either you're a tote person or a backpack person. If you're indecisive like me, get both. 🙂

Tote

Get a good and sturdy black leather tote without any (or at least minimal) gaudy logos. It'll look profesh and will take you far. I'm still rocking a Zara one (Mansur Gavriel dupe) from like five years ago. If you're looking for a designer one, opt for a preloved one to save some coins without skimping on quality. The brands I can vouch for (in no particular order) are Céline, Cuyana, Givenchy, Bottega Veneta, Madewell, and Coach.

Find great preloved designer items at Fashionphile, TheRealReal, and Vesitiare Collective. For everything else, ThredUp and eBay.

Backpack

When looking for a backpack, make sure that the straps are comfortable and that you have plenty of compartments. This way you can forgo a cord + tech organizer.

I have a SwissGear backpack similar to this one and it travels well ten years and counting.

SwissGear Scansmart Laptop Backpack, Black, 19-Inch

Wireless Headphones

Don't get me wrong, the wired earbuds that came with my iPhone work just fine, but sometimes I just need some wireless earbuds.

Soundcore by Anker Life A2 NC Multi-Mode Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds

Business Cards

Get a small batch from Moo and keep them ready.

Business Card Holder

Your business cards need a cute outfit.

RFID Blocking Wallet – Minimalist Leather Business Credit Card Holder

Point of Sale To Go

Collect your coin and go.

Square Card Reader

Document Holder

Go beyond a cute printed file folder.

Enyuwlcm PU Leather A4 File Folder Document Holder Waterproof Portfolio Envelope Folder Case with Snap Closure Black

Notebook

Low tech doodle and decision-maker.

Notebooks on Amazon

2 Pack Executive Lined Journal Notebooks by Papercode

Pen

Always have at least one nice-looking pen.

Cross Classic Century Lustrous Chrome Ballpoint Pen, Model Number: 3502

Cord + Tech Organizer

Organize your cords and save your sanity! Points if you label your cords.

Cord + Tech Organizers on Amazon

Matein Electronics Travel Organizer

Mini Office Supplies Kit

Just the essentials.

Mini Office Supply Kits on Amazon

Yoobi Pink Mini Office Supply Kit

The Item You Probably Didn't Know You Needed, Until You Needed It

Your new travel BFF. Make a friend at the local coffeehouse.

Power Strip with USB – 2 Outlets 3 USB Charging Ports

USB Drive (at least 128 GB)

Another item that you'll need when you least expect it.

SanDisk 256GB Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Your peepers will thank you.

livho 2 Pack Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Catch All Pouch or Case

Use for other items such as lotion, mask, sanitizer, mints, lip balm, eye drops, hair ties, medication, stain remover, and lint remover.

Cosmetic Cases and Pouches on Amazon

Hekyip Half Moon Cosmetic Bag

Water Bottle

Hydrate to radiate.

bkr Little Smooth Jet – 16oz – Glass Water Bottle – Jet Black *mine is in the color Tutu, but this jet black is gorgeous!

S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle – 17 Fl Oz

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